It has officially been nine days since my parental units arrived here in Hilo. In one week, with the help of a rental car, we have seen most of what the Big Island has to offer. The highlights being Acaca Falls, Volcanoes National Park, Crater Rim Trail, more oceanside parks than I can remember, museums, rain forests, deserts, lava tubes you can walk through, petroglyphs, steam baths, breathtaking views, stunning beaches, and a semi circumnavigation of the island. It has been a whirlwind week of exploration. In fact, I’m actually glad we had to turn the rental car in yesterday. There is no doubt we made the most of it. I need a vacation from my vacation.
The Big Island is unlike anywhere I have ever visited; and that is saying something. The combination of the trade winds, an active volcano, and the two 13,000 foot mountains on the Big Island makes the perfect setting for multiple eco-systems.The northwest side of the island is extremely wet due to the large mountains forcing the consistent N.E. tradewind clouds to dump all of their water before continuing west, resulting in rainforest and lush vegetation. On the other side of the two mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, it is much drier. In fact, it’s so dry, there are actually deserts, and everything in between. In a two hour drive from the east side of the island to the west side of the island we drove through rainforests, deserts, rural farmland, lava fields (a terrain all its own), and livestock country. Everywhere you look is a postcard view in Hawaii. A postcard company could easily thrive selling the pictures taken from the the break room window of their company’s office.
Hawaii is expensive though, and not just because I’m cheap. A non name-brand loaf of bread is $4.30, a dozen eggs $4.50, a gallon of gas $4.30, a whopper is $5.57, the meal deal is $7.25, even a Subway $5 foot long is $7. Of course this is all in Hilo, on the Big Island. In general, not just food, everything a normal person spends money on including clothing, tools, haircuts , insurance, dining, etc.. seems higher than the states, by about 25-50%. Apparently, this is the price of paradise.